carol and susan get married

This is the real reason one episode of 'Friends' was banned from airing

Sep 17 | 33 sharesEmily Barrett

With a total of 238 episodes spanning across 10 years, Friends was (and still is) one of the longest and most-loved TV shows to have ever graced our screens. Over that decade, we saw characters fall in love, fall apart (need I reference the famous "we were on a break" line?), and - on several occasions - get married.

Ross racked up the most matrimonial unions across the seasons, and of course we saw Chandler, Monica and Phoebe all get married, too. But there's one wedding pretty early on that some people didn't get to see - because it wasn't aired.

In season two of the sitcom, Ross' ex-wife Carol marries her lesbian partner Susan in a ceremony complete with ugly hats, terrible dancing and a cameo from Orange is the New Black star, Lea DeLaria. It's a pretty well-rated episode, and has a score of 8.2 on IMDb. So why was it banned?

cast of friends tv show Credit: Bustle

Well, in the modern day, two women getting married probably seems like no big deal to most Americans. Marriage equality was introduced in the states over two years ago and, though there's still the occasional objection, most sensible people have accepted that LGBTQ people have just as much of a right to exist and be represented as everybody else.

However, when the episode originally aired in 1996, gay marriage didn't exist at all in the USA. As a result, 'The One With the Lesbian Wedding' was banned by two networks: KJAC-TV in Texas, and WLIO in Ohio. The reason they gave for the ban was that the episode contained "objectionable content" - and they weren't referring to the awful beige/taupe coloured dresses.

America has a pretty rocky history when it comes to gay rights, and media representation ties in with that. Even in the mid-nineties, the amount of queer characters on television was very low (and arguably still is), so showing two female characters getting married was a highly unusual occurrence.

alt Credit: Warner Bros

Despite this, the episode was actually the highest rated television show for that week, with over 30 million viewers tuning in to watch the pair say "I do". According to the co-creator of the show, Marta Kauffman, "NBC expected thousands and thousands of phone calls and hate mail" because of its portrayal of gay marriage - but in the end it only received four calls, all of which presumably came from petty people with nothing better to do.

Recently, the actresses who played Carol and Susan, Jane Sibbett and Jessica Hecht, appeared on a UK television show and discussed the episode: "It was the first lesbian wedding [on TV], and you know, they blocked it out - some of our affiliates in America," said Sibbet. "And because they blocked it out, we got so much extra press from it."

"We won awards for it!" added Hecht.

The Cast Of 'Friends' 1999-2000 Season. From L-R: David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow And Matt Leblanc. Credit: Getty

What's perhaps more interesting is all those weird Friends moments that didn't result in an episode ban. Remember when Monica and Ross accidentally kiss in 'The One Where the Stripper Cries'? Or when Ross leaves his own son on the bus in the aptly-titled, 'The One With the Baby on the Bus'? Or pretty much any episode that features Ugly Naked Guy? Surely all of those contain more "objectionable content" than two people getting married.

As far as the Friends universe goes, then, it seems that this episode wasn't particularly outrageous at all. Thankfully, in the last 20 years since 'The One With the Lesbian Wedding' aired, we've seen much more LGBTQ representation - and fewer horrible wedding dresses.